Here is the text of a letter written to "The Field" sports newspaper by Bertha Steedman concerning a report on her play at the 1897 edition of the Northumberland Championships in Newcastle. The report had appeared in the edition of "The Field" published on 7 August 1897. Bertha Steedman's letter was printed in the edition of 21 August 1897:
"The Ladies' Singles at the Northumberland Tournament
"I shall be obliged by your allowing me space in your columns to reply to certain statements made in your issue of August 7 by the reporter of lawn tennis in reference to the Northumberland meeting. He states: 'It was with great difficulty that Miss Steedman could be prevailed upon to face Mrs [Blanche] Hillyard for the final round of the ladies' singles, and even then she played only one set before retiring.'
"Whatever difficulty I made, I had certainly just cause; for it is impossible for a lady to play four hard matches on one day, and to do herself justice, as was the case with me. I started to play on Saturday morning at 11.30 in the semi-final of the mixed doubles, and the match was not finished until 12.45. At 2.30 I played one set against Mrs Hillyard in the ladies' singles and then retired. At 3.30 the final of the ladies' doubles commenced, and was not finished until 4.30. Half an hour later I had to play in the final of the mixed doubles, which took more than an hour. A lady ought not to be asked to do more than this.
"The semi-final of the mixed doubles ought to have been played off on Friday. On Friday I had pointed out to the referee that, unless I played the final of the mixed doubles that day, it was possible I might have to play all these four matches on Saturday, and said I could not do it, and should scratch to Mrs Hillyard. I was assured that I should not have all four matches to play. I think, therefore, in fairness, it must be admitted that I had excellent reason for playing only one set.
"The reporter says I should have scratched before the final if I did not intend to play; but how was I to know I should be left in for all three finals, or that the matches would be so arranged as to necessitate my scratching? The reporter also utterly ignores the fact that in the other two events I had someone to consider beside myself.
"I am prepared to play three finals if I have the good luck to be in for them, but I do draw the line at semi-finals on the same day. It is unnecessary to notice the reporter's remarks about one's duty to the public and the committee, beyond saying that the honorary secretary actually thanked me for playing even one set, and agreed that I had good reason for only playing one.
"High Ercall Hall, Wellington, Salop."
Last edited by newmark401; Nov 17th, 2012 at 07:48 PM.